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Smaller classes, arts can be found at Zion Lutheran School

Zion Lutheran School in Fallbrook provides educational excellence within a Christian setting for preschool to eighth grade students.

Over the last 12 months, Zion has happily celebrated its 25th anniversary. Its final event on Labor Day weekend offered 260 people the opportunity to gather for an (alumni) reunion filled with memorable moments.

“Now that we’ve celebrated the past, we are moving into the future,” Principal Nancy Swanlund said.

This school year, Zion has some exciting plans up its academic sleeve.

Like many businesses, Zion has been affected by the down economy. However, it views its smaller class size as a new opportunity and a blessing. All but one class, Swanlund said, has 20 students or less.

“The parents love that our classroom size is smaller,” she said. “It gives [students] that extra attention and connection that parents want.”

Middle school students are getting some extra perks in the math and writing departments, too.

“We have broken our math classes down even smaller in our middle school,” said Swanlund, citing the new range of eight to 10 students. “The kids are getting more personal attention and we want to help lay that foundation for math success in high school.”

On the writing front, Sandie Fischer is new to the faculty to help fine-tune middle school writing skills. Swanlund explained that Fischer is teaching students creative writing, poetry, term paper execution and technology writing.

While many schools are forced to cut music and art from its curriculum, Zion has expanded it. “We specifically did not cut back on music, art, library, technology or physical education,” Swanlund said, “because that’s the ‘extra’ in life that kids need.”

Zion is also happy to introduce a talented art teacher, Becky Schmad.

For music, students have the choice of participating in choir, the Praise Band and attending a weekly music appreciation class. Students are also exposed to outside musical talent. Recently, they listened to the art of opera.

Over the summer, tech teacher Pam Thomas won a DYKNOW classroom giveaway.

In the computer lab, DYKNOW technology provides endless opportunities. It allows teachers to monitor what their students are doing on cyberspace, controls students’ computers, promotes student efficiency and attention and offers an electronic notebook shared among students.

This year, Swanlund is also thrilled to introduce “Buddies.”

“Our upper grade kids are pairing up with the lower grades for activities such as reading and going to chapel together,” she said. “There’s no isolation among the different grades and this partnership makes us a family.”

Another partnership occurring this year is the one with the Boys & Girls Club for sports activities.

“We are such a small school and the Boys & Girls Club offers programs where we can participate,” she said.

Zion’s eighth grade China trip is right around the corner. However, this trip marks the first time to Beijing.

It is Zion’s hope, Swanlund said, that students will be able to connect with doctors Bill and Ana Moody. Once having medical practices in Fallbrook, this team is now at Shepherd’s Field, an orphanage outside of Beijing.

Swanlund is thrilled to be serving her third year as principal at Zion. She loves the school and all the alternatives in education it offers.

“As principal, I feel especially grateful to our teachers and staff who value academic excellence, love the children and their families and love Jesus,” she said. “Our students are taught in a loving environment which encourages integrity, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness and citizenship. I am also blessed by our families who wholeheartedly support Christian education with their volunteer spirit and financial commitment.”

Zion Lutheran School is located at 1405 East Fallbrook Street. For more information, visit or call (760) 723-3500.

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